Reviews by - Lindsay Planer

Unlike the revolutions that defined rock and roll in the 1950s and '60s, the advancements of the 70s and beyond have been distinctly subtler. However, as was true back then, the most accurate benchmarks of progress are those that listeners keep returning to again and again. This week, we have three such timepieces: The Crystal Method's Vegas (1997), Joe Satriani's Surfing With The Alien (1987) and Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True  (1977) -- which are celebrating their respective 10th, 20th and 30th Anniversaries this year with sizably expanded editions.

Elvis Costello -- My Aim Is True: Deluxe Edition (Hip-O/UMe)

Those fans who weren't happy that Elvis Costello's recent catalogue upgrade didn't have much in the way of bonus material should be ecstatic to see and hear not only the newly remastered edition of the LP, but no less than 29 never-before-available tracks. In this context, My Aim Is True can be experienced with greater perspective than ever before.

Disc One has the complete long player which introduced the world to the essential Costello entries "Welcome To The Working Week," "Alison," "Less Than Zero," "Mystery Dance," "Waiting For The End Of The World," and "Watching The Detectives". Then there are out-takes from the sessions with early versions of "No Action" and "Living In Paradise," as well as "Radio Sweetheart" and "Stranger In The House". Concluding the first disc are eight demos documented at Pathway Studios. "Blue Minute," "Miracle Man," "Waiting For The End Of The World," "Call On Me," "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," "I Don’t Want To Go Home" and "I Hear A Melody" can all be found here.

Disc Two continues with the oft-rumored, but rarely heard live performances by Costello and The Attractions at The Nashville Rooms in London on August 7, 1977. The complete show is presented, followed by sound checks of "Pay It Back," "Radio Sweetheart," "Sneaky Feelings," "Crawling In The USA" and "Alison" which were recorded earlier that day. Notably, with the exception of the latter title, none of the other selections were actually played during the concert.

The oversized 24-page liner notes booklet is crammed with lyrics, photos of the band and alternate shots from the striking cover art, plus cool reproductions of vintage memorabilia.

Joe Satriani -- Surfing With the Alien: Legacy Edition (Epic/Legacy)

Classic 'Satch' has never looked or sounded as good as it does on the multi-media upgrade celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Joe Satriani’s breakthrough project Surfing with the Alien (1987). The endeavor simultaneously detonated and solidified Satriani as one of the 20th century's definitive string masters. From practically out of nowhere, “Satch Boogie” and “Surfing With The Alien,” began to top rock radio playlists and race up the charts. The album landed in the Top 30 and was given Platinum sales status. This was uncharted territory for a platter of guitar instrumentals.

Satriani himself has been at the helm of the whole Legacy Edition. As such, the first disc is dedicated to Satch's own recent remastering of the 10-song album. And who better to do so? As he  not only wrote and arranged all the material, but he played the guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion and even programmed the digital drums as well.

At the heart of this audio/visual Legacy Edition is Satriani's formerly unreleased and otherwise never-before-seen set from the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival on July 15, 1988. Leading a power trio of Stu Hamm (bass) and Jonathan Mover (drums), Satriani (guitar) serves notice to the six-string wankery of other so-called 'heavy' guitarists. Among the repertoire is 70% of Surfing With The Alien, including "Ice 9," "Midnight," "Always With Me, Always With You," "Satch Boogie," "Circles," "Lords  Of Karma" and "Echo". The video quality is flawless and the audio is accessible in either Dolby 2.0 Stereo, Dolby 5.1 Surround or DTS Surround Sound.

The accompanying booklet has two-dozen pages of notes penned by Satriani, tons of rare action and promotional shots and a variety of personal memorabilia from Joe’s own stash. Speaking of which, the package comes with a special access code that will allow fans to log in to a restricted section of the Surfing With The Alien website -- located online at  www.surfingwiththealien.com. There they will be treated to exclusive content and unique sweepstakes, prizes and more.

The Crystal Method -- Vegas: Deluxe Edition (Geffen/UMe)

Remarkably, it has been ten years since the duo of Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland -- aka The Crystal Method -- first burst out of the Nevada desert and into the Los Angeles rave scene with a sonic spin to their homeland on Vegas (1997). This double-disc Deluxe Edition gives Jordan and Kirkland a chance to revisit and tweak their debut with a new digital remastering. Plus, they dug around the archives for an additional disc's worth of rare and  live tracks, even going so far as to commission some of their DJ peers to create new mixes of their favorite Vegas selections.

The Crystal Method have easily become the USA's most significant contribution to electronic music and techno. "Busy Child," "Comin' Back" and "Keep Hope Alive" were but a few of the duo's songs to have emerged from underground dance parties and into the mainstream. For instance, "Busy Child" showed up in the films Gone in Sixty Seconds and Lost in Space, while"(Can't You) Trip Like I Do" was heard in Spawn. However, "Keep Hope Alive" seems to have been the most prolific turning up in several flicks, most prominently XXX, The Replacement Killers, Romeo Must Die and Extreme Ops. And no doubt boob tubers have heard them blaring out of the small screen on Dark Angel ("Name of the Game"), as the theme to Third Watch ("Keep Hope Alive"), in a 'rave' centric episode of House ("Trip Like I Do") and "Busy Child" wriggled into several late '90s TV advert campaigns for jeans.

Disc Two houses the previously mentioned unique remixes of album tracks, a 1993 demo for "Comin' Back," as well as a live reading of "Vapor Trail," from an Atlanta, Ga show in 2004. Topping it all off are two Quicktime movie files containing the respective music videos for "Busy Child" and "Comin' Back".

Lindsay Planer is a freelance journalist based out of the Piedmont of North Carolina. He's a  frequent contributor to All Music Guide, All Movie Guide, CrutchfieldAdvisor.com and the Gaston Gazette.
All comments and questions are encouraged and can be sent to <asthediscspins@earthlink.net>.


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